Thursday, July 01, 2010

Move Networks' Cautionary Tale -- Oxymoronic Schizophrenic Focus

IPTV company Move Networks seemingly had everything -- great differentiated technology (adaptive bit-rate streaming), great blue-chip investors (including Microsoft and Cisco), great blue-chip customers (many major media companies), experienced name CEOs (including most recently the former President & COO of DirecTV), and a ton of capital (it had raised $90 million overall). So, what could go wrong?

Schizophrenia, that's what.

Move never could decide what it wanted to be. First, it wanted to be an enabler of online video -- providing back-end streaming technology. That didn't work. Then, it shifted gears to become an IPTV back-bone company. That didn't work. And, most recently it decided it wanted to compete directly with its own customers by delivering premium online video "television" content itself. And, not surprisingly, that hasn't worked (I anticipated this several months ago when the company announced its new strategy).

The result? Move is pulling a Veoh. It has fired its high profile CEO. It has laid off a majority of its employees. And, it has just announced that it is "evaluating strategic alternatives, including a possible sale" (read the official company press release here). In fact, it strangely first announced this latest sad chapter in a Tweet which, to me, is unbelievable and trivializes the impact of this most recent "Move" on its employees' lives.

Move is a cautionary tale to all companies. The problem was that Move never stuck to one "Move." It seemingly tried to be everything -- it changed business models incessantly -- it confused its own customers (heck, it competed with its own customers!) -- it had a revolving door of CEOs -- it didn't focus on its "Good to Great" hedgehog (its differentiated adaptive bit-rate streaming).

There is no joy over this -- this is a sad tale. Many lives have been impacted. Other companies take note. Yes, it is good -- in fact necessary -- to throw spaghetti against a wall to see what sticks in this fast-paced ever-changing technology world. But, be careful that your bowl of pasta is not too big -- that your eyes are not too big when you eat it -- and that you have the patience to eat it slowly over time ...

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